Spurs First-Half Weakness Strikes Again

Spurs first-half weakness struck again last night which prompted Gary Lineker to have a pop at Roberto Soldado on Twitter. His performance is partly down to our style of play and Tim Sherwood naturally came to his defence, even if his words are rather hollow.

"I never followed Gary's career too closely so I'm not sure if he had a barren spell but sometimes it doesn't help.

"He needs as much help as he can get, Robbie, and he will certainly be getting that from inside of our club.

"Gary was a top player, a top player at Tottenham, so we can give him a bit of slack."

The reality is different, the reality is that the level of relief Soldado felt when scoring 3 weeks ago was monumental. The pressure on him was enormous. When you have the opportunity to boost a players confidence after something like that you take it.

What you do not do is leave a guy sitting on a bench for 3 weeks. If he needs as much help as he can get then why wasn't he given that help during that period? Why was he simply told to sit on a bench while a kid plays in his place. That is doing the exact opposite of boosting a players confidence, that is not giving him all the help he can get within the club.

With the gap between midfield and Soldado far too great last night he was isolated and that is not his game. He needs players creating and giving him chances within the box, all his work was being done with back to goal outside it.

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Superb Second Half Performance

In the first half of the game last night we were passing slowly out of defence again and when pressed by Benfica we had to hurry or play back to Friedel. We needed quick passing but that is difficult for a side who have never played together before. Just like the first leg Benfica were getting 9 men behind the ball very quickly.

We didn't look like scoring, we had created only one chance that Soldado snatched at when a mistake by Townsend at both ends of the field led to the Benfica goal. As at White Hart Lane they counter-attacked, this time forcing a corner off the excellent Bentaleb who immediately turned to give Townsend a mouthful and gee him up. Once again it was our left sided weakness that let us down.

We generally survived set-pieces, a few mistakes but we muddled through. Benfica playing a zonal marking system looked well drilled and showed how it can work done properly. We found it difficult to have any impact. A simple block and our man marking gets undone.

Spurs First-Half weakness strikes againGylfi Sigurdsson was not comfortable defending in central midfield, he kept getting caught and much preferred attacking. To play the role he was asked you need to be good defensively as well so in that respect he was no threat to Mousa Dembele claiming his place back when fit. Sigurdsson however can create more at the other end if the ball is moved quickly enough.

Benfica knew where Spurs strength lay, out wide on the wings so concentrated defeding the wide areas which nullified both Townsend and Lennon.

That pass it quicker message seemed to have been delivered at half-time as in the second half longer passes were being pinged wide or pass and move in midfield to create space. That pass and move football was absent in the first 45. The second half was all about pride and preventing 3 or 4 goals, or so we thought.

With Chadli central, we didn't give him headers to win but when Kane and Eriksen came on we were suddenly playing balls in the air to him and his head created or assisted in both our goals.

Two goals and we had chances to win it, from open play or from what should have been a penalty. Benfica were panicking. Because we now had a threat through the middle, our wide men had more room and they suddenly became a threat.

Before the Chelsea game I produced table to show how slow we are at starting. The only team in the Premier League not to have scored in the Premier League, we sat 11th in the table. In the second half we transform and last night was more of the same, why can't we start the first half like we play the second half? Fear of losing?

That is a dilemma we need to resolve because it has cost us this season, it's been the difference between being in the top four and being out of it.

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